Ted Hodges, a contributor for Low End Mac wrote that he was fired from the Apple Store due to a conflict of interest because he helped an elderly friend of his migrate data to a new iMac. Hodges believes Apple has changed too much and is completely separating himself from Apple. He is not buying another Apple product or service and is unsubscribing from every Apple subscription.
Hodges says that in January of this year he went to help an elderly friend migrate data to a new iMac. The friend chose not to go to Apple for a free data migration because he’d have to leave his device with Apple for some time. Hodges’ boss came to him a few weeks later and said he had been told that Hodges helped a friend with a computer. Hodges responded to his boss saying that he had indeed helped a friend migrate data and that it was done on his own time.
Hodges’ boss then told Hodges that this was a conflict of interest and he had just admitted to it. An official investigation then began, two days later Hodges was suspended and six days later he received a letter from Apple; the letter said he had violated Apple’s conflict of interest policy in their business conduct policy, and that he was fired.
Hodges had just been fired for helping a friend with their computer.
A version of Apple’s business conduct policy is available from the U.S. SEC and their conflict of interest policy is in there. There aren’t much specifics in it that pertain to this situation other than a clause about not doing Apple business with those you have a close personal bond with. Though it’s more likely that this incident falls under the part about general conflicts of interest:
“A conflict of interest is any activity that is inconsistent with or opposed to Apple’s best interests, or that gives the appearance of impropriety or divided loyalty. Avoid any situation that creates a real or perceived conflict of interest.“
The argument from Apple here could potentially be that by assisting this friend Hodges kept them out of the store. Although a data migration like this is a free service, getting a customer in a store is valuable. When a customer is in a store, Apple can sell them devices or services, or just expose them to more Apple devices or services which could help Apple’s business. This would mean that by Hodges helping his friend he was doing something that apposed Apple’s best interest.
There is quite obviously another argument here, that this was a mean and immoral thing to do. Apple fired an employee for trying to help someone. It doesn’t sound like a good headline nor a positive thing at all.
Hodges by no regard would have seemed like the type to rail on Apple, he called himself one of the “biggest Apple Evangelists to ever live.” Hodges began writing at Low End Mac in 2005 and working for Apple in 2007, and he believed in Apple and their product. But after being fired he sees Apple differently now. He says that Apple has strayed from their mission for if they hadn’t they wouldn’t have fired him for helping someone. Hodges mentions the Epic v. Apple issue, the pear lawsuit, and his firing and says:
These aren’t the actions of a company that cares about its customers, employees, and the communities it serves; they’re the actions of Mobsters shaking down the little guy for protection money and snuffing out anyone they just don’t happen to like.
Hodges has decided that he does not see this as acceptable and is distancing himself from Apple. He says he will never buy another Apple product or service again, and he will cancel all the subscriptions—yes, he is subscribed to all of them. Hodges has decided that he wants nothing to do with Apple.
It’s possible that Hodges is right about all of this; maybe Apple has gone to far from their mission. Is Apple bullying small businesses or are they defending their copyright and keeping the App Store safe for us? Or maybe, he’s wrong and Apple does care about you, the customer. Does Apple care about you?